Category Archives: Bigotry

Just Kids

I was eight, maybe? Nine?

At the shopping mall, because it was the 1980s. With my aunt.

We were sitting by some kind of fountain or courtyard. There were lots of little kids jumping and playing, chasing each other, their voices echoing off the tile floors and metal furniture. I don’t remember why some of them bothered me, whether they bumped into me or I just saw them and didn’t like them, but they bothered me somehow.

And I turned to my aunt — both of us so white as to be transparent, in case you’re new here — and I said, “Look at those little colored boys running around.”

I’d heard older relatives use that word. I’d heard the tone of contempt in their voices when they did it. I mimicked both, no, I said it. I was old enough to know better and I said it meanly.

“WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”

My aunt grabbed me by the shoulder. I’ll never forget the look on her face. She dragged me to a chair and got down to my level and she asked me a question I couldn’t answer then and certainly can’t now.

“Who do you think you are? You think you’re better than them? Why, because they’re black and you’re not?”

She was fuming. Exasperated. But somehow sad, too.

“You don’t call people ‘colored.’ That’s a terrible thing old people said a long time ago. They prefer African-American. And you don’t talk about people that way, ever, no matter what they look like or what they’re doing.”

She adored me. I was her tiny little princess who she spoiled and indulged. I’d never seen her angry at me before but she was angry then.

It’s been more than 30 years and I think about that moment all the time.

I thought about it again yesterday: 

In video footage that was shared widely on social media, one boy, wearing the red hat that has become a signature of President Trump, stood directly in front of the elder, who stared impassively ahead while playing a ceremonial drum.

Some boys in the group wore clothing associated with Covington Catholic High School, an all-male college preparatory school in Park Hills, Ky., near Cincinnati.

High school kids surrounded and intimidated an elderly Native American man and laughed while they did it.

The wingnutsphere is in full cry already, and the kids’ “defenders” are out there talking about how somehow the old man started it, or that the video doesn’t tell the whole story, or that they’re just stupid kids and everybody was a shithead in high school.

Public shaming is getting out of hand in this country and more often than not, we aren’t getting the full story. Anyways, it’s time we as a nation learn not to judge others when you and I are nowhere near perfect. We need to forgive because we’ve all said and done dumb things in our lives, especially when we were their age.

Probably lots of kids are stupid. Lots of kids are shitheads.

But that’s the point.

When they do shit like this, you correct them and you educate them and you for the love of God don’t make excuses for them and then turn around and scream about how the elderly Native American man they were taunting “started it” because then they learn nothing.

Yelling at adult MAGA chuckleheads is beyond pointless. They’re out there cheering for this, they’re past changing. But some of the kids might not be.

Unless the only response by the adults in their lives is to pretend their kids did nothing wrong.

This is bad reporting. Those that were there said the man approached the kids beating his drum and even joined into the kids as well as they did to his beat. Disgusting what the AP did with this. If you notice the man is smiling as the Indian does the “stare down” done during the ritual. Jeez.

I think about my aunt and the mall when kids do stupid, racist things. I think about the time I came home from school laughing because somebody called somebody else a faggot and I thought that word sounded funny and my mom explained why it wasn’t. I think about the people who took the time to knock my ass down when I spoke out of turn or presumed or overstepped.

I think about how long it took me to be grateful for those times.

Would she have done me any favors, my aunt, had she simply shushed me? Had she made sure nobody heard, and then muttered darkly about the “PC police” and “the media” setting up “good kids” to look bad? Would that have, in any way, prepared me for the world we live in now?

 

If they’re “just kids” that means there’s a chance they could turn back from this.

The adults in their lives egging them on and defending them are the ones who are irredeemable.

A.

Republicans In Disarray

It’s been a bad week for the president* thus far. His wildly unpopular shutdown enters its 27th day, he’s been mocked for serving cold hamberders to jocks from Clemson, and his administration* has been leaking like a sieve. The stories about his NATO-phobia and Interpretergate have been particularly damaging as well as damning. It’s been an excellent week, however, for Putin’s plan to foment chaos in what used to be called the free world. We’ll just have to keep on rockin’

Enough of the Insult Comedian, let’s talk about *other* Republicans in disarray. Two past malakas of the week have been in the news: Steve King and Chris Christie.

The Same Old Racist Iowa Cornholer: Emulating Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is shocked, shocked to learn that Steve King is a bigot. Based on his legendary “untrustable in hungria” comment, McCarthy is not the brightest bulb in the lamp. He’s also not very observant: Steve King was a racist long before he was stripped of his committee assignments.  I wrote about it in a 2017 post called King Of The Bigots and Trip Gabriel of the Failing New York Times has compiled Steve King’s Greatest Hits. What a long, strange Trip it’s been.

Perhaps Kevin hadn’t noticed before because his head is so far up Trump’s ample rump that he’s been blind to King’s racism. It’s a lame excuse: King has been saying this shit since he was a member of the Iowa lege. This quote comes from 2002, when the Trump presidency* was just a bad dream:

Mr. King, in the Iowa State Senate, files a bill requiring schools teach that the United States “is the unchallenged greatest nation in the world and that it has derived its strength from … Christianity, free enterprise capitalism and Western civilization.”

The Congressman from next door Metry and past malaka of the week, Steve Scalise, has been too busy selling books and pretending NOT to be a more politically viable David Duke to notice King’s bigotry either. Scalise prefers code words to raw naked hatred but he’s guilty of Renault-ism as well:

The King of Bigots took to the House floor yesterday to defend himself:

Dolts like King always twist history to justify their words and actions. Many abolitionists were racists and preferred emigration and separation to integration and equality. I wonder if King has ever heard of Liberia.

The only reason Republicans stripped the bark off King’s committee assignments is that House Democrats voted to rebuke the Iowa Cornholer’s latest statements. The vote was 424-1. And the no vote came from Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush who thought the House should censure the King of Bigots.

Let’s move on to our next example of Republicans in disarray. The post title feels slightly illicit since it mocks a million such stories about Democrats in Tiger Beat on the Potomac aka Politico. Perhaps I’ll win the morning.

Governor Asshole’s Revenge: There’s a consensus out there that the Trump regime operates like a mob family. I’ve even given him a wise guy name: Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto.

The man who wanted to be Clemenza to Trump’s Godfather has written a book that verifies the old Sicilian adage “revenge is a dish best served cold.” I wonder if the dish is pizza? I happen to like cold, leftover pizza for breakfast. I’ve also been known to hold a grudge.

Back to Christie’s upcoming tome, Let Me Finish. Yesterday, the Guardian published an exclusive article about the most explosive parts of the book, which involve the Governor Asshole/Slumlord Jared blood feud:

Christie blames this key player[Kushner] in the president’s inner circle for his ignominious dismissal shortly after Trump’s election victory in November 2016. Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, writes that Kushner’s role in his sacking was confirmed to him by Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign chief, in real time.

As Bannon was carrying out the firing, at Trump Tower in New York, Christie forced him to tell him who was really behind the dismissal by threatening to go to the media and point the finger at Bannon instead.

“Steve Bannon … made clear to me that one person and one person only was responsible for the faceless execution that Steve was now attempting to carry out. Jared Kushner, still apparently seething over events that had occurred a decade ago.”

The political assassination was carried out by Kushner as a personal vendetta, Christie writes, that had its roots in his prosecution, as a then federal attorney, of Charles Kushner in 2005. The real estate tycoon was charged with witness tampering and tax evasion and served more than a year in federal prison.

Apologies for the long quote but I couldn’t quite channel my inner Mario Puzo or David Chase this morning, so I let the Guardian guys do it for me.

I’ve missed having Governor Asshole to kick around. I’m glad he’s publishing an *almost* tell-all book about the Trump regime. I say almost because he’s softer on Trumpberius than on anyone else:

At his first meeting with Trump in 2002, at a dinner in the Trump International Hotel and Tower, in New York, Trump ordered his food for him. He chose scallops, to which Christie is allergic, and lamb which he has always detested. Christie recalls wondering whether Trump took him to be “one of his chicks”.

At another dinner three years later Trump told the obese Christie he had to lose weight. Addressing him like one of the contestants in Miss Universe, the beauty contest organisation that he owned, Trump said “you gotta look better to be able to win” in politics.

Trump returned to the theme of girth during the 2016 presidential campaign, exhorting Christie to wear a longer tie as it would make him look thinner.

Christie hates lamb? Fuck him and the long red tie he rode in on. Was that a bridge too far? Nah, in the immortal words of Bobby Bacala:

No, Bobby, I don’t. It’s what I do.

There’s one more example of Republicans in disarray. Chinless Mitch may be preventing a vote on re-opening the government but he lost a vote yesterday, which had to be one of the most newsworthy Tuesdays in history. One could even call it Christie Gras.

The Oleg Deripaska Sanctions Blues: Team Trump wants to lift sanctions on the Russian oligarch to whom Paul Manafort owes millions of dollars, Oleg Deripaska. 11 Republican Senators joined Democrats to stop this move in its tracks; one of whom, to my great surprise, was Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy of Neelyisms fame. As Neely himself might put it, even a blind pig finds an acorn sometime. Boy howdy.

This was a preliminary vote: they need 2 more GOP votes to stop Mnuchin’s folly but any sign  of Republican disarray is inordinately pleasing. Props to Chuck Schumer for organizing this mini uprising. He’s showing more backbone since Nancy Smash became Speaker. Keep it up, Chuck.

That concludes this episode of Republicans In Disarray Theatre. The last word goes to the Gin Blossoms who have anthropomorphized disarray.

Punching Above Her Weight

I was an agnostic on the subject of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez until recently. She ran a great primary campaign against a complacent incumbent but she’s a freshman, which gives her little to no power. That, and my opinion of her, changed when the conservative media began its campaign to elevate her. That was not their intention but their idiotic and downright hysterical attacks on AOC have transformed her into one of the stars of the class of 2018. Holy unintended consequences, Batman.

Thus far the flying monkeys of the far right have attacked AOC for:

  • Being factually challenged. Compared to Trump, she’s Norm Ornstein.
  • Being a bartender. So much for the dignity of work. Besides, her former vocation has given her the ability to out-shout and out-heckle her enemies.
  • Going by the nickname of Sandy while in college. They seem to think this should be a hanging offense. Oy, just oy.
  • Dancing and looking vaguely goofy on a video from her college days. Her response was to post a video showing herself dancing into Congress. Dance shaming did not work.
  • Taking a selfie of her bare feet whilst bathing. This was debunked by foot fetishists at something called Wiki Feet. I am not making this up.
  • Calling Trump a racist. That’s called telling the truth.
  • Rush Limbaugh called her “uppity” not long after Ed Rollins dismissed her as a “little girl.”  Perhaps she should be more like Butterfly McQueen as Prissy in Gone With The Wind.

The result of these ludicrous attacks has been to dramatically raise her profile. Typically, rookie Congresscritters aren’t interviewed by Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes. One could call that encounter AC meets AOC. She even has her own acronym: talk about branding.

AOC is a helluva counter-puncher. Thus far, her responses to her critics have been pitch perfect. She’s a social media ninja who knows how to make her critics look small and petty. It helps that they are.

These bizarre and ineffectual attacks are rooted in the fear of strong women that pervades the political right. The attacks on AOC have empowered her instead of taking her down. They need a new playbook. White male hysteria isn’t working for them.

Speaking of white male hysteria, here’s how the great Dahlia Lithwick put it:

These men aren’t afraid of these women because they’re part of a movement, although they are. They’re terrified because these women are empowered professionals who have parlayed careers in institutions of power to become formidable political actors. Calling them uncivil or bad mommies or child-like isn’t effective when women are legitimate holders of high office—and yet, as we see, it continues in ever-more comically depressing forms. As Virginia Heffernan notes, “These moth-eaten virgin-whore tropes have become self-satirizing. If you think misogyny has faded since ‘Mad Men’ days, you’re wrong. In fact, as women pack the halls of power, it seems more virulent than ever, as conservatives convulse in fear at losing their old rubrics of control. They lash out more than Don Draper ever did.”

As a retired Mad Men recapper, I think Tucker, Rush, and their ilk are much worse than Dapper Don Draper. He came to accept Peggy and Joan as powerhouses. AOC’s critics are too busy fluffing Trump to evolve. Until they do, she’ll keep punching above her weight.

We conclude this episode of Dance Shaming Theatre with a little ditty from the Seventies:

No Plan, No Endgame

I didn’t get all the agita yesterday about Trump’s Oval Office speech. It lived up (down?) to my low expectations. He’s a terrible, and worse, boring speaker without an audience. To quote the man himself, it was low energy. Additionally, nobody except his hardcore 25-30% believes anything he says. The only people capable of being hoodwinked already wear pointy hoods in private.

Nothing Trump said last night matters. It was his greatest hits with a dull delivery. It’s hard to cry wolf when you look ready to nod off at a moment’s notice.  He made absolutely no news, which made the speech an exercise in futility. It was also an exercise in distraction. The Trump regime is slowly but surely circling the bowl and they know it:

Trump’s aides fear he has given himself no way out. “The president put himself in a box,” the former official in touch with the White House told me. “The problem is there’s no endgame. Right now the White House is at a seven on the panic scale. If this thing goes on past the State of the Union they’re going to be at an 11.” Another prominent Republican close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described Trump’s handling of the shutdown as “total fucking chaos.”

That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

The box in question is his political coffin. In the article quoted above, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman called the Mexican stand-off that is the shutdown, “Trump’s Alamo.” The president* is likely to identify with Davy Crockett, after all. Crockett was a peckerwood with a coon skin cap atop his head and Trump is an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head.

I’m convinced that the main reason Trump gave that lame racist speech last night is jealousy. The Democratic House is the bright shiny object in town and they’ve gotten tons of favorable media coverage. Trump not only thrives on the spotlight, he needs it. He’s afraid he’ll disappear if he’s not the center of attention 24/7/365.

Chuck and Nancy have become a formidable duo but the staging of their response last night was downright weird. It was summed up neatly by Herriman biographer and parade route book signer Michael Tisserand:

Others have compared them to the immortal hicks in Grant Wood’s American Gothic. They *were* stiff, but Nancy from Balmer and Chuck from Brooklyn are way too urban to be immortal Iowa hayseeds.

It’s time for people to stop thinking Donald Trump has supernatural political powers. He’s an unpopular president* whose party lost the midterm popular vote in a landslide. Last night’s speech was a dulled down distillation of his 2018 stump rants. It didn’t work then. Why would it work now?

The Trump shutdown shows the perils of winging it. House Republican leaders are worried that dozens of their members will rebel and support Speaker Pelosi’s efforts to reopen the government. At least four GOP Senators are making noises about reopening the government; one of whom is Colorado’s Corey Gardner who is already atop the Senate Dems 2020 hit list.

Trump lies about everything. He should take Chuck and Nancy up on their offer to reopen the government and debate the stupid wall later. Then, he could lie about it and declare victory. It would be a small lie by his standards. I bet them dead presidents would approve.

Is this Trump’s Waterloo? I’m not sure about that but he’s certainly circling the loo.

This is what happens when you cry wolf without a plan or an endgame.

The last word goes to Todd Rundgren:

We’ve Been Hurting People Forever

It’s so easy to focus on the new terrible things that we forget the old terrible things are still with us: 

Yellowman’s great-great-great grandmother was born on the eastern butte. Family members told him that her cradleboard, a traditional way to carry babies, was made from the pine trees on the butte. In the 1860s, Yellowman said, the U.S. government drove his ancestors from the buttes and later marched them to Fort Sumner, N.M., where they were imprisoned, part of a forced journey known as the Long Walk.

As a boy, Yellowman, who was born on a mesa in the northern part of the Navajo Nation reservation, often traveled with brothers and cousins to Cedar Mesa, a plateau near the base of the buttes, to chop and gather firewood.

He recalled driving past a uranium-ore processing mill one year that a Texas-based company had built on land leased from the Navajo Nation. It left him unsettled, especially as family members who worked in the mill began to fall ill and die. Today, toxic debris from the mill, which closed in the late 1960s, still litters the land.

One of the ways in which Trump’s administration and the GOP by extension are awful is that they take things that have already been fraught — what little land Native Americans can hold to, the experience of transgender people — and make it worse for no reason than to be small and mean. It’s just … mean. I run out of words for everyday atrocities frequently in part because, you know, we have the kids in the concentration camps too, but at the heart of it all is the meanness.

They’re just so damn mean.

A.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Crossfire

Hollywood was emboldened by the war against the Fascist powers to make more socially aware movies. There were two anti-anti-Semitism movies released in 1947: Gentleman’s Agreement and Crossfire. The former was a prestige picture directed by Elia Kazan, and starring Gregory Peck and John Garfield. It could be called a “Gentile savior” film as journalist Peck goes “undercover” and poses as a Jew. It won the best picture Oscar but has not held up that well. It’s a good but not great movie.

Crossfire was a noirish genre film that told the story of an anti-Semitic soldier played by the great Robert Ryan. It’s a tight, compact thriller with a fabulous cast: Robert Mitchum, Gloria Grahame, Sam Levene, and a pipe smoking Robert Young. It’s a 4 star classic and a much more effective tool against anti-Semitism than the more genteel Gentleman’s Agreement.

Here’s the poster. It has one of the best tag lines ever:

Let’s all go to the lobby and check out this lobby card:

Crossfire was adapted from a novel by Richard Brooks who was the writer-director of such classics as Elmer Gantry and In Cold Blood.

Hollywood improved on Brooks’ title. You can see for yourself:

I was mildly chagrined to lean that I  used Crossfire for PFT 6 years ago. I missed the Brooks book so this post is better. It’s what happens when you’re prolific and occasionally prolix.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Deportee (Plane Crash At Los Gatos)

Roots by Frida Kahlo

I’ve been following the horrific events at the US-Mexico border. After a few weeks of relative quiet on the caravan front, the Insult Comedian has ramped up the war of words in this fake crisis. He added a new weapon to his usual arsenal of hot air and bullshit: tear gas. Trump claimed that it was “very safe tear gas” but there’s no such thing, especially since they tear gassed babies. Exposure to tear gas has detrimental effects on childhood development. It’s some nasty shit. I was exposed to tear gas in the Paris Metro many years ago. I don’t recall what the protest was about, but I recall feeling woozy, raspy, and weepy for hours after being tear gassed. I guess it wasn’t the “very safe” kind that Trump is so proud of. #sarcasm

Trump’s ridiculous claim that tear gas is “very safe” reminds me of an encounter with one of my Greek Greek relatives. I called him Theo (Uncle) Panos but he was married to my father’s  cousin. He was a proud and boisterous man who had a small business making and selling taverna-type chairs in the Monastiriki district in old Athens. He believed that everything Greek was the best. It was one reason he and Lou got on so well. I’ll never forget dining al fresco one evening with Panos and his family. There were flies swarming and  I kept shooing them away. Panos laughed and said, “Don’t worry. In Greece, the flies are clean and very safe.”

This week’s theme song was written in 1948 by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman in protest of the racist treatment of Mexican nationals who perished in a plane crash in Los Gatos, California. 32 people died: 4 Americans and 28 Mexican migrant workers who were being deported to Mexico. The media of the day listed the names of the dead Yanquis but referred to the Mexicans solely as deportees.

Sometimes the “crash” in the title is replaced with “wreck” but the song remains the same. Deportee (Plane Crash at Los Gatos) is one of the great protest songs and has been recorded many times over the last 70 years.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Woody Guthrie, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Gilmore, and Nancy Griffith.

Now that we’ve been deported, it’s time to jump to the break. We’ll try not to crash-land but I make no guarantees. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

Continue reading

Mississippi Goddam

Source: Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Facebook page via the Bayou Brief.

I feel like an interloper to this story. Athenae wrote a slam-bang post about it yesterday and my friend and Bayou Brief publisher, Lamar White Jr. broke the story of Cindy Hyde-Smith’s bigoted comments. I also could not resist using the Nina Simone song for the post title. I know I’m not the first to do so, my friend Kat did it at Sky Dancing. I am a derivative motherfucker. I do, however, have talented friends.

While I’m giving credit where it’s due, there’s a remarkable piece in the Jackson Free Press by Ashton Pittman (names don’t get more Southern than that) that fills in many of the blanks about Cindy Hyde-Smith aka the Racist Lady. Nobody should be shocked that, not only did the appointed senator attend a “segregation academy,” she sent her daughter there. And yes, she was an elected official when her daughter matriculated. It doesn’t matter to prosperous white Mississippians. It’s what they do, y’all. Cannot mix with “those people.”

Another note about Lamar’s reporting. He tells us exactly who and what, Greg Stewart, the guy in the Facebook pictures with the Racist Lady, is:

In the early 2000s, Stewart was specifically identified as a leader of a recognized hate group- Free Mississippi- by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group went defunct, and as a result, it was de-listed by the SPLC. But you can still find his name on their database. He  served as the group’s “parliamentarian.”

You can also still easily find him on Facebook, where he makes it abundantly clear that he is very much still involved in the business of the Lost Cause. (Stewart enthusiastically supported Chris McDaniel in the general election and is now cheering on Hyde-Smith).

McDaniel is the arch teabagger and Lost Causer who opposed Thad Cochran in 2014. He’s also the creep whose supporter harassed the Senator’s elderly wife in her nursing home. I am not making this up.

Back to Cindy Hyde-Smith. I wish I could say that her racist remarks and inept campaign will defeat her but I don’t think they will. Her Democratic opponent, Mike Espy, is infinitely more intelligent and qualified to serve in the Senate. He’s also black and the vast majority of white Mississippians will never vote for a Democrat let alone a black Democrat. It’s the party of “those people.”

I’ve watched with amusement people who know nothing about the South opine on cable news about the Mississippi runoff. I saw one otherwise intelligent person say on AM JOY that Espy will win because there was not supposed to be a runoff in this race. Wrong. Chris McDaniel nearly unseated an incumbent Senator in the 2014 GOP primary. He only got 17% of the vote this time, in part, because Trump supported the Racist Lady in the first round. He’s still popular with white voters in the Magnolia state, alas.

What Cindy Hyde-Smith’s bigoted bumbling has done is to make the runoff closer than it should be. Republican political pros are nervous about the race but think she’ll pull it out after Trump rallies the peckerwoods later today. Their mantra is: “We don’t want an Alabama.”

They’re referring to Senator Doug Jones’ thrilling win last year in his race against Judge Pervert. I think that’s unlikely for reasons stated on the tweeter tube:

Alabama is NOT a progressive paradise but it has some big cities, a major medical research hub in Birmingham, and the rocket eggheads in Huntsville to partially offset the rural peckerwoods and rednecks. Also, Doug Jones is white. An African American candidate would not have beaten Judge Pervert, alas. The Bradley effect remains in effect in the South, as we saw in Florida where many white voters could not bring themselves to vote for Andrew Gillum.

I think Mike Espy has a good chance to get 45% of the vote if his GOTV effort is strong, otherwise he’ll hover at around 40%. If it’s the former, it’s a Beto-style moral victory. I hope I’m wrong and we wake up to an upset victory on Wednesday morning.

One thing that national Democrats seem to have learned this year is to CONTEST every race even those that look difficult. You never know when an inept candidate will talk about hanging or disenfranchising their opponents. In another state, those comments would have destroyed the appointed senator’s campaign. It’s a sign of progress that they damaged it severely. And in Mississippi of all places. Goddam.

The last word goes to the great Nina Simone:

The Last Gasps

This woman: 

The 2007 resolution wasn’t the only legislation Hyde-Smith backed that would elevate Mississippi’s Confederate history. The Washington Post reported that in 2001, Hyde-Smith introduced a bill as a state senator to rename a stretch of highway to what it had been called in the 1930s: the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway, after the president of the Confederacy.

And in photos posted to her Facebook account in 2014, Hyde-Smith was pictured posing with Confederate artifacts during a visit to Beauvoir, the home and library of Davis. The caption on the post read, “Mississippi history at its best!”

Not long after Trump’s election someone described his campaign as the Going Out of Business Sale for White Baby Boomers and, with the exception of the Freedom Riders, yeah, pretty much. This angry old bat is a Type. I know ten of her, they all go to church every Sunday and while they’d never refuse to shake a black person’s hand they have no qualms about saying things that come straight out of Jesse Helms’ mouth when they’re amongst their own.

Jesse Helms was in recent memory. As were Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, and Barbara Bush saying Katrina victims made out like bandits after the hurricane because they were poor anyway. They’re not leaving us fast enough to change at the pace we need. There are people are living, who screamed at children going to school because they were black children. They still write letters to the newspaper about “welfare” and “busing” and would tell you their neighborhood was fine until “those people” “ruined” it. They still vote.

This rictus-grinning standard-bearer for white American power has gotta be the last one we’ve gotta fight, right? Every year of the past 20 I’ve hoped it’s the last time we have to have an election about the 1970s but every year it’s become more clear that the elections of the 1970s were about the 1870s and if we’re not over THAT, the Earth will collapse into the sun before we get over Vietnam.

Can the store just go out of business already? They’re down to the screws that held the fixtures on the walls. Pretty soon they’ll be selling off the linoleum. Can we please just lock the doors and board it up and walk away?

A.

The Crazy Is Contagious

I’m not sure if the inmates are running the asylum, but they seem to be running the White House. The president* has been in a week-long funk since he proclaimed victory in the midterms, a lie that not even he believes. He’s been lashing out, picking unnecessary fights, and behaving like a man who should be wearing a straitjacket, not an overlong red tie. Hence the featured image of Houdini in a straitjacket. There’s occasionally method to my madness.

Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has filed a bone-chilling report about West Wing craziness:

As Donald Trump’s West Wing careens through one of the most turbulent weeks of his presidency, White House officials are struggling to understand the source of the fury fueling the president’s eruptions. “This is a level of insanity I’ve never seen before,” one former West Wing staffer told me. Current and former officials are debating different theories for Trump’s outbursts, ranging from his fears over his son Don Jr.’s legal exposure to the prospect that House Democrats will unleash investigations in January. “He’s under a tremendous amount of mental stress,” one prominent Republican close to him told me.

<SNIP>

Trump remained in a dark mood during his weekend trip to France to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. As The Washington Post reported, he got into an argument with British Prime Minister Theresa May during a phone call on the flight across the Atlantic on Friday. On Saturday morning, Trump skipped attending a rain-soaked ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery to honor the Battle of Belleau Wood. When his absence became a scandal, the White House said the decision had been made because Marine One reportedly could not fly in the rain, and Secret Service did not want Trump traveling by motorcade. One Republican briefed on the internal discussions said the real reason Trump did not want to go was because there would be no tent to stand under. “He was worried his hair was going to get messed up in the rain,” the source said. “[John] Bolton and everyone was telling him this was a big mistake.” A former administration official said Trump hates being outside in wet conditions. “What I honestly think? He woke up and said, ‘It’s pouring rain. This is a joke and I’m not doing this.’”

So it really was his hair. We’d all been making those jokes but even I didn’t think that was it. I wrote it off to another tantrum when it was a hairy tantrum. The whole incident is the best example yet of his lack of political acuity. The fact that this would become a huge mess was predictable but the president* was shocked. Listening to people can be a good thing. Try it sometime, Donald.

The Insult Comedian’s weirdest public quote of the week was this:

“The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes. When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”

I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this. Of course, I’m relatively sane.

A change of shirt is not enough, I’d add this to make it a better disguise:

Has this bozo ever actually gone to a polling place? We know that he was a sporadic voter before running for president* and it shows. This is what happens when low information voters elect one of their own.

The other White House crazy comes from the East Wing. Melania Trump got John Bolton’s right hand woman, Mira Ricardel, shitcanned. That was weird enough but the crazy was compounded by this:

In a White House where the drama has been constant, but almost always behind the scenes, an email to reporters on Tuesday from Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, was unusually direct: “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”

This led to lazy comparisons to Nancy Reagan’s problems with Ronnie’s second chief of staff, Don Regan. I never thought I’d defend Nancy BUT that dispute was largely kept behind closed doors. Nancy’s spokesperson did not issue a statement. It became a bigger deal upon the publication of Regan’s book about his time in the two-A Reagan administration. Unlike the Trumps, the Reagans were famously close: Nancy probably rolled over in bed and said, “That one-A Regan has gotta go.”

Back to Ricardel’s ouster. Who’s going to wax and oil Bolton’s mustache now? I was working on a Ricky Ricardo pun on her last name but decided to cut her some slack. Why? I’ll never know.

Finally, in the world of crazy there was this story out of Baltimore:

A man shouted a pro-Nazi and pro-Trump salute during a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre on Wednesday night in an outburst that some audience members feared was the beginning of a shooting.

Audience member Rich Scherr said the outburst happened during intermission. The man, who had been seated in the balcony, began shouting “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump.” Immediately after that, “People started running,” Scherr said. “I’ll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, ‘Here we go.’ ”

The man was escorted out a few minutes later and the show continued. But Scherr, 49, said it was hard to focus on the play after that. “My heart was just racing. I didn’t even really pay attention to the second act.”

Oy, just oy.

I think David Simon nailed it when he RT’d the Sun story:

Circling back to our featured image, this Nazi creep wouldn’t liked Harry Houdini any more than Tevye. Houdini’s father was a Rabbi.

The last word goes to Dave and Phil Alvin:

Appearing To

For God’s sake describing things that occur are YOUR WHOLE ENTIRE JOB, LESTER:

Emphasis mine. I get that they are using this evasive weasel language to avoid being wrong, but a) that is not actually the worst thing ever on earth and b) WHAT OTHER POSSIBLE EXPLANATION IS THERE FOR THAT? What other “gesture” looks like that? This isn’t ambiguous, especially since the parents aren’t especially denying it and the kids are all “oh yeah, well what about the one black guy that did it, huh?” and the school administration is apparently saying forget the Nazis and think about how many cops Black Lives Matter has put into industrial ovens.

At a certain point you call something what it is. We see this all the time with videos that wind up on the news: “the video appeared to show …” YOU’RE LITERALLY WATCHING THE VIDEO. And if you haven’t verified it/can’t verify it, don’t put it on the air. The photo is of young white or white-passing kids doing the Hitler salute like it’s a joke, and that’s all this is. You want to make it evadable, okay, but understand that the people you’re helping to evade are Nazis.

This isn’t hard, but damned if we don’t make it sound like it is with the evasions and the bet-hedging and all the other things we think will make people Not Mad because that’s also something we think is a good goal. How on earth are we supposed to deal with things when we’re told that what we’re seeing isn’t quite there?

A.

Profiles In Phony Courage

It was quite a week for president* Trump. He pitched fit after fit, tantrum after tantrum. He confirmed that his picture is in the dictionary next to narcissist. He claims to have “won” the midterms, if so, he is an even sorer winner than usual. And his foray to France was the worst presidential* trip abroad since his trip to Helsinki.

Trump proved over and over again why I call him the Insult Comedian. He confuses bluster with bravery, whinging with winning, invective with courage.

It is not courageous to berate Jim Acosta and revoke his press credentials. Acosta *is* a loudmouth and a showboat, BUT he’s in the tradition of such pitbull teevee reporters as Dan Rather and Sam Donaldson. Donaldson was a burr in the saddle of both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. They dealt with it like adults, not professional wrestlers. Donaldson and I have a mutual acquaintance who assures me that Sam *is* a “rude, terrible person.” Dealing with obnoxious reporters is the Acosta of freedom.

It is not courageous to abuse black female reporters by calling them stupid and accusing them of asking “racist questions.” It seems to disprove the notion that the Insult Comedian is “the least racist person ever.” #sarcasm

It is not courageous to refuse to attend a ceremony honoring the Great War dead because it’s raining. Who is he now? The wicked witch of the West Wing? Is he afraid of melting?

It is not courageous to attack the people and government of California as wildfires rage. Is he suddenly a forestry expert? The only trick Trumpy missed was blaming Jerry Brown and calling my home state a socialist hellhole. He’ll have to blame Gavin Newsom after January. The taunts could even involve Trump Junior’s dating Newsom’s ex-wife. Stay tuned.

It is not courageous to make baseless allegations of voter fraud. It may, however, be a preview of 2020 if Trump is on the ballot and loses.

It is not courageous to scare the shit out of people over THE CARAVAN before the election, then drop the subject immediately thereafter.

I could go on and on about Trump the fake tough guy. Like former Vice President Dick Cheney, Trump is a scaredy cat pretending to be a bad ass. He’s all profile and no courage.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a pussy. He should grab himself.

Campaign Notes: The Homestretch

The reason I’ve always been optimistic about the midterms is that Americans like divided government. I prefer Democratic control of all the political branches but most Americans like checks and balances, especially with an unbalanced president*. The electorate appears poised to flip the House and I still think the Senate is in play. I’m confident of the former but tentative about the latter, which is strictly based on my gut instincts and what Poppy Bush called “The Big Mo,” which seems to be hanging out with Democrats right now.

I put absolutely no stock in generic Congressional polls. Reliance upon them strikes me as a fool’s game given the past decade of frenetic gerrymandering and red state voter fuckery. I remain a devotee of Tip O’Neill’s adage “all politics is local” as well as that of the late Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders owner Al Davis “just win baby.” I know Al has been dead for 9 years but my love-hate relationship with the old villain has ripened into affectionate remembrance.

I am also skeptical about reliance on early vote totals. I remain uncertain as to what impact they have on election day turnout. I prefer voting on election day: the same poll workers have staffed my polling place since at least 2008. Many of them are neighbors with whom I’ve had front porch/stoop conversations.

The early vote obsession is the contemporary equivalent of exit poll mania. I remember 2004 when the exit polls leaked and I thought John Kerry had won. It was much worse when we found out that he’d lost. The only good thing about that result is that we were spared having John Edwards as Veep. I am still convinced that Kerry’s own first choice, Dick Gephardt, might have made the difference in Midwestern swing states but that’s 14-year-old graveyard whistling.

Graveyard Whistling is the name of the most recent Old 97’s album. They’re originally from Dallas, Texas, which provides an awkward transition into a final look at Betomania.

I remain a Beto skeptic. I think he’s an excellent candidate who has run a good race but the idolatry on the part of some people is OTT. I’ve been a good boy and haven’t yelled at anyone who mentions Beto yard signs as proof that he’s going to win. Repeat after me: YARD SIGNS DON’T VOTE. That bit of virtual yelling felt good.

A side benefit of Betomania is that Texas Dems have a chance to flip some House seats including that of 11-term incumbent Pete Sessions in the Mixmaster metro area. That’s suburban Dallas to the uninitiated. Suburbia is fertile soil for Democrats in this cycle. Trump’s manners or lack thereof *do* matter to educated suburban voters, especially women. The gender gap will be something to behold tomorrow.

Until proven otherwise, Texas remains a white whale for Democrats. My skepticism is rooted in Team Beto’s reliance on young voters and Hispanic voters; groups that do not usually turn out in great numbers. Additionally, Hispanic voters are more conservative than many Democrats think they are. A substantial percentage of Hispanic men are inclined to raise the drawbridge to future immigrants. Sad but true.

I hope to be proven wrong about Texas. I think that it will eventually become a purple state and this election cycle has helped that along. Other than the 1964 LBJ landslide, my native California went Republican in every presidential election between 1952 and 1988. Now it’s a socialist hellhole according to Fox News. I wonder if the Foxers have ever called Jerry Brown a Blue Meanie?

I’ve also been avidly following the race in the Virginia 7th. It pits the aptly named teabagger Dave Brat against former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger. Dr. A and I have family and friends in that district and they’re hoping to have a Democratic Congresscritter.

Retired Republican Senator John Warner thinks Spanberger’s the best and Brat’s the wurst.  In addition to endorsing other Democrats, including the man who should be Veep, Tim Kaine, the former Armed Services committee chair and Navy Secretary has also denounced the Insult Comedian:

“It’s a very serious time for the country. I did not support Trump,” he said, and “I’m deeply troubled by the central issues. So much of my life has been devoted to the intelligence work and national security — and I’m just not comfortable with the way he’s handling these national security issues,” said Warner.

“He has no inner compass at all,” Warner said of Trump. “He’s put a tremendous divide in this country.”

I understand from a friend who used to work for Warner that he swears like a Marine when he discusses Trumpy behind closed doors.

John Warner is a patriot who believes in putting country before party. Unfortunately, there are few conservatives like him nowadays. Let’s hope that those who are vote Democratic to put a brake on an out of control president*.

I am excited about election day but will be glad when it’s over. I think the Democrats will gain anywhere from 25 to 50 seats in the House. The upside involves the hope that most of the close races will go our way. It’s what tends to happen when Big Mo has your back.

As to the Senate, I think we’ll do better than expected but fall short of a majority unless we run the table on the close races. John Ralston has convinced me that Dean Heller is going down in Nevada. Absent the return of the Bradley effect in Florida, I think Andrew Gillum will pull Senator Bill Nelson to victory. Btw, I think Gillum had the quote of the cycle, “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying that the racists believe he’s a racist. ” Yeah you right, Mister Mayor.

I am also cautiously optimistic about Joe Donnelly in Hoosierland and Claire McCaskill in the Show Me State. I may be one of the few pundits who thinks Heidi Heitkamp could pull off another upset as she did in 2012:

The crazy Peach State Governor’s race seems headed to a run-off thereby keeping Georgia on my mind. Democrats are clearly gaining statehouses this cycle. I know Athenae will be pleased not to have Bruce Rauner to kick around anymore. Let’s all hope that First Draft alums Scout, Jude, and Doc will have a new Governor. It’s time to watch Scotty lose.

I understand why rank and file Democrats are nervous about tomorrow’s election. They’re still traumatized by 2016. Here’s the deal: I’m old enough to have lived through the White House wilderness years when we lost 5 of 6 presidential elections. It gave me thick political skin and a suspicion of political idolatry. I fell hard as a 14-year-old for George McGovern. That did not turn out well. The country preferred Nixon until it didn’t. A reminder from John Dean that the Kaiser of Chaos is worse than Tricky Dick:

While I’ve liked many candidates since 1972, I don’t fall in love with them. I prefer to keep a wary distance. I do, however, love my country, which is why I hope for a big turnout tomorrow and in all future elections.

It’s a cliché at this point, but this *is* the most important midterm election of our lifetime.  Its chance to vote for hope, not fear; the future, not the past; diversity, not bigotry. It’s time to give Fortunate Son Donald Trump and his enablers their comeuppance. Repeat after me: To Hell With The Trump Base.

Let’s end this omnibus homestretch post on an inspirational note with a Bruce Springsteen song that a certain valiant losing candidate used as his theme song in 2004.

The last word is a quote from one of my favorite movies:

Campaign Notes: Running Scared

Harry Truman has long been the patron saint of underdogs. As you can see, Senator Heidi Heitkamp had a Trumaneque election night moment in 2012. The North Dakota GOP has been working overtime to prevent another Heitkamp upset with an effort to suppress the Native American vote. The Senator is still fighting the good fight as the title of a profile of her by Irin Carmon illustrates: Heidi Heitkamp Doesn’t Care That You Think She’s Going To Lose. Here’s hoping that political lightning strikes again.

The tragic events of the last week have stalled GOP momentum in the campaign. Even the ordinarily obtuse and insensitive president* has noticed. Of course, he’s been whining about it instead of placing it in proper perspective and accepting his share of the blame because of his abhorrent behavior. The Insult Comedian is not big on perspective or accepting responsibility. He thinks the world revolves around him, not the sun. Believing your own rhetoric is hazardous to your political health, especially when it’s a tissue of lies.

As to the post title, Democrats are running scared and Republicans are running scary. Trump is incapable of running a positive campaign and not talking about himself. He is also scared to death that Team Mueller will come after him after election day. Count on it, asshole.

I remain optimistic about our chances in the House. The Senate map remains tough but if enough suburban voters are repelled by Trump’s hateful and hate-filled rhetoric there could be a surprise. The GOP deserves a comeuppance for foisting this third-rate strong man on us. Let’s hope they get what Bush called “a thumping” in 2006 and Obama called “a shellacking” in 2010.

Trump’s rhetoric gets more extreme by the day. He’s even dragging the military into politics by sending troops to counter the so-called caravan invaders:

Restating his vow to deploy thousands more troops to the southwest border, Trump fumed over border-crossers and said he had instructed U.S. military personnel to “consider it a rifle” if incoming migrants hurl stones at them: “Anybody throwing stones, rocks … we will consider that a firearm because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock.”

I have a lot of respect for our armed forces. I’ve never met a single officer who would order their soldiers to fire on unarmed civilians for throwing rocks. It’s time for a musical antidote to the bigoted GOP campaign:

Trump knows nothing about the military. Not only did he not serve, NO MEMBER of the Trump family has ever worn a uniform; not even in World War II. Fred Trump was too busy screwing the poor to take up arms in defense of our country. All the military age men in my immigrant  family served in World War II and my Uncle Bill was killed in action in Italy. I take this personally.

They may be unwilling to go on the record but many GOPers expect Trump’s bigoted rhetoric to backfire bigly:

…but congressional Republicans battling for political survival in swing districts with large clusters of college-educated voters and women have grown increasingly worried that such groups are having trouble stomaching what Trump is dishing up.

“The kind of voters Trump is talking to right now, there aren’t enough of them in these areas to get us over the finish line,” said one GOP campaign official.

“We understand this is an issue that motivates his base, but the economic issues are what we really need to win these swing voters because they are who’s going to decide who controls the House,” the official told POLITICO, adding that Trump “is solidifying swing voters who were already leaning Democratic and are now definitely going vote for Democratic candidates.”

Make it so, voters. Make it so. The last word goes to the late, great Roy Orbison.

Oops, I forgot something:

4 DAYS UNTIL THE MIDTERMS. TICK TOCK, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Cruel Crazy Beautiful World

The mind reels over how much has been going on in the news. Election run-ups are usually action packed but 2018 has been frenetic.

The word of the day is nativism. I know, that’s always the word of the day at the Trump White House, but they’ve gotten loud even for them. They’re not only letting their xenophobic freak flag fly, they’re waving it wildly.

I had Johnny Clegg’s song Cruel Crazy Beautiful World in my head all day yesterday. It lends itself to the rush of events:

You have to wash with the crocodile in the river
You have to swim with the sharks in the sea
You have to live with the crooked politician

Clegg came to worldwide attention as a political/cultural dissident in apartheid era South Africa. His crime was to be a white man who made music with black musicians. It was a Cruel Crazy Beautiful World then and it still is. If anything, the Current Occupant has made it crueller and crazier. The beauty is supplied by the resistance.

We begin with the Cruel. Trump famously floated the notion of banning birthright citizenship by executive order in an interview with Axios, which is best described as Politico Lite. That was not shocking, what was shocking was the gullible response by many people: they bought it and freaked out. I assumed it was clear to most people that this was Trump throwing shit against the wall to see what would stick. He’s been trying to change the subject to Trumper friendly ground ever since the MAGA Bomber story broke.

While there are apparently a handful of wingnut lawyers who believe that birthright citizenship can be abolished by executive order, they’re full of shit. The right is enshrined in the 14th amendment and was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Wong Kim Ark case. It’s a 120 year old precedent that the current Court is unlikely to overrule but that’s what must be done, either in court or via the amendment process. Even the conservative Weekly Standard agrees.

One more thing. Trump claimed that the US is the only country with birthright citizenship. Wrong again, you lying asshole. There are at least 30; many of which are in Latin America. Beware of the brown peril: they’re rushing our borders as I write this. #sarcasm

Trump may think he’s a dictator but he’s not one as long as there’s a free press and an independent judiciary. The phantom executive order is a moral abomination. It’s also unclear if this intervention is helpful in electoral terms. Many of the toss-up House seats are in suburban districts where voters find this sort of nativist raw meat politicking indigestible. One Pennsylvania GOPer even called it “political malpractice.”

There are signs that the ties that bind establishment Republicans to Trumpberius are beginning to fray. The administration was unable to find any congressional leaders to go to Pittsburgh with him. I think they were afraid that he’d go into Insult Comedian mode and get all squirrely on Squirrel Hill.

Let’s move on to the Crazy. For days there were twitter rumors that some anti-Mueller shit was going to hit the fan and splatter all over the Special Counsel. The ringleaders were a right-wing lobbyist/conspiracy theorist and a pipsqueak twitter personality/blogger named Jacob Wohl. They figured they’d capitalize on the #MeToo moment and claim that the straight-laced Bobby Three Sticks was a rapey motherfucker. Everyone would believe their story, right? Wrong again, you lying assholes. Team Mueller has referred this matter to the FBI for investigation. The wingnuts are crawfishing like, well, Crazy. Natasha Bertrand broke the story, so get thee to the Atlantic.com. 

White Nationalist Congressman Steve King has always been cruel and crazy. Who among us will ever forget the “calves like cantaloupes” remark? Yesterday, there was some Beautiful news involving the Hawkeye Horror: he’s in political trouble.

House GOP campaign honcho Steve Stivers denounced the King of Bigots:

It’s a sign that the nativist campaign is not working as well as the Kaiser of Chaos thinks it is.

Additionally, Land O’ Lakes support for King has melted.  No more butter for the Hawkeye Horror. Apparently, pandering to European neo-Nazis isn’t all it’s cut out to be.

One final Beautiful note. King is in a statistical tie with his Democratic challenger JD Sholten.  He won re-election by 23% in the Trumptastic year of 2016. Even if he prevails, the mere fact that he’s in trouble indicates that the House GOP majority is in deep shit and sinking fast.

The last word goes to Johnny Clegg with a double dose of Cruel Crazy Beautiful World:

It’s a cruel crazy beautiful world
Every time you wake up I hope it’s under a blue sky
It’s a cruel crazy beautiful world
One day when you wake up I will have to say goodbye
Goodbye — it’s your world so live in it!


6 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

Kristallnacht In Broad Daylight

Writing for First Draft is one of my passions. It’s often my therapy. This has been one of those times. The MAGA Bomber’s failed attempt at mass assassination shook me to the core. Then, the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh left many of us questioning what it means to be an American in the Trump era.

I am proud to be an American, but I am ashamed of our current leadership’s inability to respond with an ounce of human decency or a scintilla of empathy. As far as the president* is concerned, it’s an inconvenient interruption of rally mania. As far as I’m concerned, Trump and his allies have blood on their hands, if not literally, then symbolically.

I’m not the only one questioning what it means to be an American in 2018. Veteran political journalist Howard Fineman grew up in Pittsburgh as a member of the Tree of Life community. His op-ed in Sunday’s New York Time was deeply moving:

I was taught in Squirrel Hill that we were in the one country that was an exception to the history of the human race in general and the Jews in particular. Founded on Enlightenment principles of individuality, freedom, tolerance and justice, the United States was the only place besides Israel where Jews could live at one with their nation, unburdened by fear or confusion about identity.

Now I must wonder: If Pittsburgh isn’t safe for Jews, if Squirrel Hill isn’t safe, if the Tree of Life isn’t safe, what place is? Without diminishing anyone else’s suffering and death, it’s a sad fact that the Jews often are the canaries in the coal mine of social and political collapse. So, what does the bloodshed in the Tree of Life mean?

It is a sign that hatred of The Other is poisoning our public life. It’s always been a vivid strain in America, stimulated by the stress of immigrant waves, but one we have overcome time and again. Although we often honor it in the breach, our founding idea remains: that each person here is precious and born with unalienable rights. Now, political enemies in America deny each other’s humanity.

It is a sign that communications can foster something less than understanding. Social media allows us to be connected but also caricatured as propaganda in campaigns of dehumanizing division.

It is a sign that President Trump’s remorselessly cynical, jungle-style vision of how to conduct business and politics is ripping apart a society already under the stress of generational, demographic, technological, economic and social change.

Once again, Donald Trump read a prepared statement in a flat, emotionless voice to signal the more mindless members of his personality cult that he didn’t really mean it. Then it was back to throwing raw meat at crowds of ravenous MAGA Maggots. He had the chutzpah to lecture the grief-stricken people at the Tree of Life Synagogue that armed guards could have prevented the slaughter. Wrong: Three police officers were wounded by the anti-Semitic gun man whose name I refuse to say. This recitation of the NRA line in the wake of a massacre sickened me.

I felt even sicker when the list of victims was published on Sunday morning:

  • Daniel Stein, 71
  • Joyce Fienberg, 75
  • Richard Gottfried, 65
  • Rose Mallinger, 97
  • Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
  • Cecil Rosenthal, 59
  • David Rosenthal, 54
  • Bernice Simon, 84
  • Sylvan Simon, 86
  • Melvin Wax, 88
  • Irving Younger, 69

Who kills octogenarians and a 97 year-old woman? Only a monster. A monster whose worst impulses were exacerbated by a national dialogue in which George Soros is the stand-in for Jewish demons conjured up in the fever dreams of the far-right. Donald Trump uses their vile rhetoric laced with anti-Semitic code words and names: Soros, globalists. Rinse, repeat, and wash.

Defenses that Trump cannot be anti-Semitic are out there already. His son-in-law is a Jew, his daughter a convert, and his grandchildren are Jewish. All true but there’s a difference between personal and political bigotry. His kinfolks are the good ones, a credit to their faith. Soros is a bad hombre who is flooding the country with brown Central Americans. Ergo Trump cannot be anti-Semitic according to his defenders. This is, of course, nonsense. Demagogues do not need to believe in their rhetoric to inflict damage. Is it better that Hitler believed in his rhetoric as opposed to Trump’s cynical exploitation of ancient hatreds? I think not.

What happened Saturday morning at Squirrel Hill was an American Kristallnacht in broad daylight. It inspired the students at a nearby high school-Howard Fineman’s alma mater-to hold a candlelight vigil at which the chant was for not for vengeance, but for people to vote.

These are terrible times for our country but it’s time to fight back in the way that Americans traditionally have: by voting the rascals out. There has never been a midterm election as important as this one. Vote like your life depends on it. The future of the Republic certainly does: 8 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

The events of last week have not only broken the social contract, they have smashed it to smithereens. I never, ever thought I’d compare something that happened in the United States of America to Kristallnacht but it’s inescapable in 2018. Godwin’s law is dead, long live Godwin’s law.

These ugly times call for some beauty. That’s why the last word goes to Paul Simon. The final stanza of American Tune gets me every time:

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune
But it’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

The MAGA Bomber’s Enemies List

As of this writing, here’s who the MAGA Bomber is telling to pipe down by mailing them a pipe bomb:

  • George Soros
  • The Clintons
  • The Obamas
  • Eric Holder
  • John Brennan 
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz
  • Maxine Waters
  • Joe Biden
  • Robert DeNiro

Robert Fucking DeNiro? It’s a good thing that he’s not in his prime or he just might go Raging Bull or even Taxi Driver on someone’s ass.  I guess that makes him the Paul Newman of this dangerously crazy incident: the salad dressing mogul was on Nixon’s enemies list. Bobby D is in good company.

Trump made a statement yesterday at the White House. Here’s how some wise ass described it on the tweeter tube:

He was back in full tilt Insult Comedian mode at a rally in Wisconsin last night and tweeted this out this morning:

He seems to think his tiny hands are clean. They are not. I know incitement speech when I hear it. The MAGA Bomber has been paying attention to Trump’s stump rantings: the members of the enemies list have all been attacked by the president*. In a word, disgusting.

There’s evidence that the MAGA Bomber comes from the creepy world of Pepe the Frog:

The pipe bomb discovered Wednesday and addressed to former CIA director John Brennan via CNN features a parody of the ISIS flag with the words “get ‘er done,” a common right-wing meme, according to a Wednesday NBC report.

On the fake flag, the Arabic words are replaced by suggestive female silhouettes. The meme reportedly originated on a far-right parody site called World News Bureau.
So much for false flaggery. Pipe bomb trutherism is a pipe dream but Rush Limbaugh is still pushing it as were these MAGA Maggots yesterday in Florida:

We’ve had periods of political violence before in our history but the incitement never came from the White House. That’s what makes this moment in time so fraught with peril. Here’s how Charlie Pierce put it yesterday:
In the 1970s, there were no national politicians encouraging the Weathermen to involve themselves in the political process. Bernadine Dohrn didn’t get to visit the White House. Of course, in the 1950s and the 1960s, there were southern state politicians a’plenty who knew the people who were setting off the bombs, but the national government was pretty much on the other side; even though it was often dilatory in that regard, it got there eventually. (In 2002 and 2003, the last two culprits in the Birmingham church bombing were finally convicted by Doug Jones, now a senator from Alabama.)
The current president* of the United States trafficks in imaginary threats and encourages, by word and deed, feelings of dread and isolation and deep, familiar paranoia, the entire Hofstadter buffet. And there is an entire media infrastructure dedicated to reinforcing those feelings, 24-7, on all platforms of the modern communications industry. The Weathermen didn’t have their own TV network.
There’s only one palliative for the pernicious and mendacious fearmongering by the Party of Trump; VOTE on November 6th, and in every election thereafter. Democratic control of at least one House of Congress means oversight and investigations. A Republican victory means an emboldened president*, a cowed Congress, an expanded enemies list, and more right-wing domestic terrorism.

Fear Itself

It’s getting ugly out there. We already knew that the only way the Insult Comedian knows how to run for office is by scaring his supporters shitless. We’re used to the GOP running a disgusting base election: they’ve been doing it since at least 1988, but it’s reached new heights (depths?) 30 years later.

Donald Trump is a real estate developer. The phrase “soft sell” is not in his limited lexicon. Watching him on the stump is like lumping together the worst used car salescreeps you’ve ever dealt with and multiplying it by a factor of 10.

The Insult Comedian goes past the hard sell to the racist sell. He’s finally come out of the closet of horrors as a an unabashed nationalist. That’s white nationalist to people like us, even though the salesman has the orange glow of the tanning bed or spray tan.

We’re hearing a lot about the “illegal immigrant” caravan; the timing of which is suspicious to me but unlike the president* and his ilk, I prefer not to level unsubstantiated charges. On second thought, if the caravan is being financed by an American fat cat, it’s more likely to be a Robert Mercer-type than a George Soros-type even if the latter is so omnipotent that some fucker tried to bomb his house.

Whipping up anti-Hispanic xenophobia is not enough, now they’re claiming that there are “unknown Middle Easterners” marching north. Another day, another lie.

The Trumper base is so terrified that one of them said this to the Failing New York Times:

But Mr. Trump’s dystopian imagery has clearly left an impression with some. Carol Shields, 75, a Republican in northern Minnesota, said she was afraid that migrant gangs could take over people’s summer lake homes in the state.

“What’s to stop them?” said Ms. Shields, a retired accountant. “We have a lot of people who live on lakes in the summer and winter someplace else. When they come back in the spring, their house would be occupied.”

I guess the Latins will become squatters at some lake houses and the “unknown Middle Easterners” will bomb the rest. They’re clearly taking a bead on Minnesota: they’re into middleness, will their next stop after the Midwest be Middle Earth? The “unknown Middle Easterners” may even be armed with bone saws for all we know.

Nobody should be surprised that Donald Trump’s midterm strategy involves throwing lies against the wall and seeing how many stick. It reminds me of the spaghetti scene in The Odd Couple:

“Now it’s garbage” aptly describes Donald Trump’s entire political career and this campaign in particular. The next president is going to have a helluva mess to clean up. I’m sure Felix will be glad to help.

There’s a whiff of panic in the air among Democrats. That’s what the MSM and the GOP expect from us. It’s time for everyone to redouble their efforts to retake the House and defend vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Missouri. We’re going to need fighters like Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester next year whether we’re in the majority or not.

I remain convinced that the key issues in 2018 are health care and the need to reign in a rogue regime. The Republicans are whipping their shrinking base into a frenzy. Let them do the panicking for a change. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: To Hell With The Trump Base.

In 13 days we will learn how many bigoted assholes there are in the country. Here’s hoping that enough voters will ignore the fear mongering of 45 and heed the words of the 32nd president and founder of the modern Democratic party, Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

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INSTANT UPDATE: Some Trump inspired motherfucker sent explosive devices to the Clinton’s house and Barack Obama’s office. The devices have been defused, the plot has been foiled. It’s to get both mad *and even.

UPDATE TOO: If you’re jittery about the election, Josh Marshall has a post up called: Everything Shows a GOP Resurgence Except for the Evidence. Shorter Adrastos: What Josh Said.

Red State Election Fuckery

While I’m avidly following the 2018 campaign, as a voter I’m on the sidelines because I have a Democratic Congressman, the Gret Stet statewide election is next year, and Double Bill Cassidy is not up until 2020. There *is* an important ballot initiative that will abolish non-unanimous jury verdicts but otherwise I’m mostly punditing in 2018.

I used a picture of the Selma Voting Rights Mural as a reminder of how precious the right to vote is. Voting rights were among the most important accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement. People have died for the right to vote. It’s why everyone should vote in every election: never forget the 2000 Florida recount that gave us the Bush-Cheney regime and the Iraq War. The world would be a different place if Al Gore had prevailed. Anyone who says Democrats don’t get mad and hold grudges has never spoken to me.

Minority voting rights remain under attack in red state America. Gerrymandering has had a deleterious impact on representative government. That’s why flipping state houses and leges is just as important as retaking Congress with a census coming up in 2020.

There are two egregious examples of red state election fuckery in 2018. In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp is the GOP nominee for Governor. He has refused to recuse himself from active involvement in managing the voters rolls and the election process. Some 53K voters have been purged from the polls: almost all of them African-Americans. If this is a coincidence, I’m a Republican.

Kemp’s Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, is trying to be the first African-American woman Governor in American history. She’s slightly behind in the public polls but has a good chance to win, especially if ant-voter purge litigation succeeds.  Abrams’ race has been overshadowed fund-raising wise by Betomania. If you’re looking to donate to a candidate with a chance to win, please consider helping Ms. Abrams. A black woman governing Georgia would send a powerful message to the world. It’s time to put the new back in New South.

Waller County, Texas sits between Houston and Austin. It is notorious for voter purges and has been since the local machine was run by Democrats, not Republicans. Waller County officials have been trying to prevent students at Prairie View A&M from voting since 1972. The reason is obvious: PVAMU is a historically black college.

Things have gotten out of control as an aide to Democratic Congressional candidate, Mike Siegel, was arrested after delivering a letter to Waller County authorities about the latest round of election fuckery. It appears that he was arrested for the crime of being a Democrat.

Last night, Rachel Maddow had a great segment on Waller County election fuckery:

If that doesn’t make you want to throw the Republican rascals out, I don’t know what will.

This is why the Supreme Court erred in gutting the Voting Rights Act. Fuck you, John Roberts.

Repeat after me: there are 25 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

First Draft Potpourri: Campaign Notes

I thought I’d meme a picture of the happiest Democrat of all for this feature. Besides, as a history buff, the 1948 campaign is among the most interesting ever. It featured something we’re unlikely to see again in our lifetime: a good choice. The Republican ticket of Tom Dewey and Earl Warren were stronger on Civil Rights than Truman-Barkley who weren’t half bad on that issue either thanks to Hubert Humphrey. As I said, it was a good choice.

The only truly good choice in my voting lifetime was 1976: Jimmy Carter and Jerry Ford were both good men as well as genuine moderates. Ford was too conservative for my taste but it’s been forgotten that Carter was the most conservative Democratic nominee since Grover Cleveland. At least he didn’t have Cleveland’s giant walrus mustache:

A side note; I was already a  young Beatles fan when I first saw a picture of President Cleveland. I had perhaps my first earworm: I Am The Walrus.  When encountering Grover’s glowering visage, I remain guilty of saying “Goo goo g’joob” instead of “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House ha, ha, ha,”

That was a manic digression even by my standards but after several weeks of focusing on the Kavanaugh Mess, I need some comic relief. I suspect you do too.

Republicans have spent the last few days exchanging high-fives and spiking the ball over what they’re calling the Brett bounce. I expressed skepticism about this on Monday and a CNN poll conducted during Peak Kav showed Democratic gains in the generic ballot as well as a staggering 30% advantage among women voters. The gender gap has been a reality for years  but has exploded in 2018. I cannot imagine why. That was, of course, a lie: it’s because of the man I call the Insult Comedian, Trumpberius, and the Kaiser of Chaos. I felt like flexing my nickname muscles, what can I tell ya?

If there’s a Brett bounce it’s not happening in House races. Politico’s Steven Shepherd counted so we don’t have to:

The Republican House majority continues to show signs of collapsing, with Democrats steadily gaining ground toward erasing the 23-seat margin and ending eight years of GOP control.

A total of 68 seats currently held by Republicans are firmly in play — rated as “Lean Republican” or worse for the GOP — presenting a stark contrast to the Democratic side, where only a half-dozen Democratic seats are in similar jeopardy.

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With a month to go until Election Day, there are now 209 seats either firmly or leaning in the Democratic column — only nine shy of the 218 the party needs to wrest away control of the chamber — according to the latest update of POLITICO’s race ratings.

I hope the Gret Stet MSM will stop writing pieces about how good it would be for Lousiana if  Metry’s Steve Scalise became Speaker. All he’s going to be is a contestant for Minority Leader.

Admittedly, things aren’t as hunky dory in the Senate where there seems to be a slight shift towards the GOP recently. The Senate was *always* going to be difficult to flip but, as the cliche goes, 27 days is a lifetime in politics. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

In the most entertaining Senate race of the season, Beto O’Rourke is drawing massive crowds, which has convinced some observers that he’s going to win. Crowds, fundraising, and yard signs are great but I’d feel better if Beto ever led in a public poll. Thus far, Cruz has maintained a steady lead. He *is* running scared: Tailgunner Ted pulled out of a joint appearance on CNN. Repeat after me: Ted Cruz is a pussy. He should grab himself.

Texas remains the Democrats’ white whale as far as I’m concerned. I really hope I’m wrong about this but I’m reluctant to be like Captain Ahab:

The Insult Comedian has been out on the hustings whipping his crowds into a frenzy and telling frenetic lies. He’s decided that his pet Justice* was the victim of a hoax perpetrated by the evil Democrats and our puppet master, George Soros who is the star of the 21st Century’s version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Trump is preternaturally fond of urging his crowds to chant “lock her up.” It seems to be reserved for uppity women who have crossed him: Hillary Clinton, Christine Blasey Ford, and the latest, Dianne Feinstein.

In the current GOP take on the Kavanaugh Mess, Senator Feinstein is the scheming, lying harpy whose evil machinations nearly sank their saintly Supreme Court nominee. This is, of course, ludicrous to those of us who’ve followed Feinstein since her days in San Francisco politics. She’s a straight arrow who has often gotten into trouble for being too blunt. If Dianne Feinstein is a trickster, I’m a Kim-n-Kanye idolator.

The most important thing I can say today is GET OUT AND VOTE and get your mom-n-them to the polls as well. It’s time to bring some oversight back to Washington. I’m certain that Elijah Cummings, Jerry Nadler, and Adam Schiff have itchy subpoena fingers.

Repeat after me: there are 27 days until the midterms, Tick tock, motherfuckers.